The NBA Trade deadline has come and gone. The league office is sorting through the deals to approve and finalize them while Michael Conley Jr. rests in preparation for a game against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
That’s right, the deadline passed and Mike Conley would still take the court as a Memphis Grizzly.
If we have learned anything from the deadline, the deals that you have heard about all over social media are not typically the ones that get done. For example, the moment it was announced that the Grizzlies were shopping their franchise cornerstones, the Charlotte Hornets were the team for Marc Gasol.
All the leaks and rumors were centered around Gasol to Charlotte with the occasional Detroit and eleventh hour Toronto rumor no one really bit on. Sure enough, it was not the Hornets that snagged the All Star big man but the Toronto Raptors.
All that to say, if there was going to be a deal out there the Grizzlies took for Mike Conley it was most likely not going to be the ones we had all the details to, which were the following:
Memphis Receives Ricky Rubio, Derrick Favors and 2019 1st round pick
Utah Receives Mike Conley
This was the team everyone had Mike heading to. It made sense, and if he just had to go somewhere, this would've been most ideal for him in terms of a hunt for a title.
The cry from those with basketball knowledge was that the Grizzlies hunted assets during the trade deadline. Everyone was drooling over the chance for first round picks (spoiler: we didn't get a single one).
Rightfully so, the Grizzlies were asking also Utah for a young player. Why would we give up the best player on our team this year and second best player in franchise history for a point guard on an expiring contract, a guy that plays the same position as the future of your franchise and a late first round pick?
At best one of the two players returning in the trade would be on the roster for a season and a half. While the Grizzlies might have been over valuing Conley, I do believe they did the right thing holding out for a younger player with upside to be thrown in the deal.
Memphis Receives Reggie Jackson, 2019 first round pick and a salary filler
Detroit Receives Mike Conley
Again, it may have been true that the Grizzlies were over valuing a 31 year old, undersized, oft-injured point guard, but this deal is an absolute joke and the Grizz were right in not accepting.
Memphis was rumored to be asking for Luke Kennard and the Pistons would not let go of him like they were hanging on to the next Klay Thompson.
Nothing about a deal with Detroit was appealing and the Grizzlies were not desperate to move the conductor.
Memphis Receives Kyle Lowry and Jonas Valanciunas
Toronto Receives Mike Conley and Marc Gasol
This deal sounds crazy and I am not sure how much validity there was to it, but the fact that Marc is now a Raptor means it was a possible scenario.
Thankfully, whoever made the decisions at this deadline knew this was nothing to spend time looking into and move on from it. If you are shipping your best two players away, you expect pieces back in return to rebuild your team around the future of your team. This trade didn't even come into the atmosphere of looking into the future. It would've just kept you in the status quo instead.
Mike Conley’s True Value
When ascribing value to a basketball player, you have to be able to separate your heart and fandom from the process. Grizzlies fans who love Mike (who doesn't?!) would expect a king’s ransom in return for him.
The truth is that he's not worth as much as you think. Yes, he should be an All-Star and is playing at a high level, but he is also 31 years old coming off an Achilles/heel injury on a max contract. I would not say he is injury prone because many of his injuries have been on the freak accident side, but he factually has an injury history.
A fair package for Mike Conley would look something like this:
A veteran player or two on an expiring contract(s).
A non lottery first round pick or multiple projected early second round picks.
A young prospect who may need a change of scenery or plays the same position.
The Utah package had some of those elements but they were just short of reaching Conley’s true value. Conley was not worth the multiple first round picks that was rumored to be the asking price, but he was in fact worth slightly more than the deals that were out there on social media.
We don't know what was offered off the grid, but it was apparently not enough for the Grizzlies to move him.
Now the Grizz fans get to see Conley lead a youth movement and run with a new tag team member in Jaren Jackson Jr, and that will be fun for everyone.